Sand Through the Hourglass
I read a blog post a while ago written by another blogger about all the things she didn't do because she didn't have time. I thought that was a smashing idea so I intended to steal it.
Then, I realized…who am I kidding?
I have all the time in the world. I haven't been gainfully employed in several years.
I just don't want to do them.
So, the following are things I have plenty of time to do but have no intention of doing.
1. Nail or Hair Maintenance:
Toenails creep me out. Even my own.
The whole clipping, cuticle scraping, whatever. Ack. Thank God my manicurist doesn't feel the same way.
I don't know why anyone does their own hair...I mean the big stuff. Cutting, dying. I get some are constrained by budget so I give them a pass. And young people who, on a whim, color their mohawk blue in the bathroom. That's okay too. But, everybody else?
Bangs go in the front. Need I elaborate?
This is shameful.
When my kids were little, I kept a spotless house. I didn't know anyone who hired out their dirty work. Now, my nest is empty and I have 5 toilets I wouldn't get near in a HAZMAT suit.
My idea of cleaning is spraying Febreze on stuff. I mean, you've seen those commercials. They find some saps to sit in a filthy car with bags of old food, dog crap, etc. and they spray the whole disgusting mess with Febreze.
"It smells like Spring," they say. That's good enough for me.
I do have bad hips. Which obviously means I can't hold a sponge. Not even if you paid me. But, I will pay others, quite cheerfully. I take that back. My husband pays them. See below.
3. Pay Bills:
We should all admit our weaknesses. Handling money is not something I do well, or enjoy. Unless I'm handling it to buy stuff. That's a whole other thing.
Balancing the checkbook is...wait...I nodded off.
4. Put Gas in the Car:
I don't do gas stations.
5. Keep up with Current Events:
I didn't watch Breaking Bad until 6 months ago. I equate a fictional television show with current events. THAT's how uninformed I am. I don't Keep up with the Kardashians either. I do occasionally check in on Bruce Jenner. By all accounts his gender reassignment is going well.
Hubby occasionally reads me something interesting out of the Wall Street Journal. Usually it has to do with sporting events or sporting events.
Being uninformed doesn't stop me from having a strong opinion though. I have been known to take a political argument to the mat all the while talking out my ass.
6. Lawn care/Gardening
I saw the gardener using one of the blower things. I think I could handle that. But why would I?
You might wonder...what the hell does she do? Well, I'd make a list but do I look like I have that kind of time?
Mother and Child Reunion
Lately, I've had cause to wonder...what does a healthy parent/child relationship look like? Why is it often elusive? How can something that usually starts so blissfully go so terribly awry?
As anyone who follows this blog knows, my relationship with my mother was turbulent, my father nonexistent.
My mother's relationship with her parents was somewhat of a mystery. She never said, well...she said...but her stories were fantastical, fiction. From what I could surmise from her sisters, her father was an abusive alcoholic and her mother...well...she was a woman of her time, looking the other way. Let's leave it at that.
My father's parents were both alcoholics who slept in separate bedrooms and yelled a lot. I don't remember a lot about them other than that.
Do these complicated family ties weave through the generations? Are they like dominos? One difficult relationship falls onto the next and the next until we all fall down?
Perhaps. I don't really know. There's a lot about this topic I'm in the dark about.
I have loving, close relationships with three of our four adult children. It might be important to note that two of my four kids are stepkids. I'm not sure how relevant that is since the most troubled relationship isn't with one of them.
I know many people who are in the same predicament. I am not alone in the disappointing parent/child relationship boat.
What's up with that?
Whatever we don't have, we tend to romanticize. I'm an only child, so my whole life I envied kids who came from big families. Their squabbles with their siblings seemed like a kind of Nirvana. I assumed it was all fun and games, that even the squabbling was a sign of a deeper bond, a love that could never be shaken. They were a unit, had each other's backs. To my chagrin, I've discovered that is often not the case. Siblings stop speaking to each other, abuse one another, even kill each other.
When I was a kid, my mother worked. In the late 60's, early 70's this was not commonplace. I felt neglected, jealous of my friends with stay at home mothers. Several of them made homemade cookies, sewed, headed up the PTA. I was shocked to hear these blessed, lucky kids bitch and moan about their "homemade" lunches and clothes. Their embarrassment when mommy dearest showed up at the school for her committee meetings in her frumpy clothes and mom perm, floored me. They looked longingly at the house key I wore around my neck, certain I'd live it up unsupervised as soon as I got home to an empty apartment, while they suffered, still tethered to the umbilical cord. They'd actually trade my seran wrapped Twinkie for their "made with a mother's love" chocolate chip cookie. "What idiots," I thought.
When I entered high school, my mother quit work. And guess what? I hated that too. The last thing I wanted was my mother breathing down my neck while I tried to sneak cigarettes and skip school.
Does our predilection to want what we don't have make us ungrateful? Unrealistic? Do we all spend our adult lives getting over whatever we feel we didn't get in our childhoods? If so, are we ever successful at it?
I know with all my heart my mother was the very best parent she knew how to be. I know she loved me and I loved her. I did the best I could as well. I was the best 17 year old parent I knew. Need I say more? What I've discovered is that well meaning and doing your best is often not enough in the parenting arena.
I think the trouble starts when a kid first realizes his parents are flawed, human. In this day and age, that usually happens with the divorce announcement. So, at least half of us found out the whole thing was a ruse, we were left rudderless, frightened, unsure of our place between two warring parents. The addition of stepparents often adds insult to injury. I've observed that it's not always the presence of a stepparent that's so offensive - it's the influence they have over the biological parent and the resulting changes in their behavior that's the sticking point. I don't think anyone comes out the other side of a divorce the same. Sometimes the changes are for the better, sometimes not. Resentments start, build, come to a head and often stay there.
Parents indulge in an array of embarrassing behavior. They drink too much, take too many prescription pills, have affairs, have too many boyfriends/girlfriends, get married too many times, they have less money than their kids friends, or more money, they dress too weird, or too stylish, they hover, they're absent, the list goes on.
The uncomfortable realization that people are inherently flawed is not just the purview of children. It's just as jolting when parents realize their little darlings aren't so darling after all.
Kids disappoint their parents in spades as well. There's just a stigma to saying so. It's fine, even encouraged, in our Jerry Springer/Reality show culture for kids to air their parents dirty laundry, lay blame, and otherwise voice their criticisms. When a serial killer makes himself a poncho out of his neighbors skin, it's usually his mother's fault. When a kid goes wrong, all kinds of fingers point at the parents. It's not cool or politically correct to blame the kid...for anything.
But you show me a tight lipped parent and I'll show you someone who's been embarrassed by their offspring at least once in their lives. Tantrums, mouthiness, mohawks, tattoos, unfortunately placed piercings. They don't go to college, they never leave college, they marry losers, they never marry, they take drugs, go to jail, a whole plethora of disturbing possibilities. Nobody's boasting about Little Johnnie's upcoming parole in their annual holiday letter.
Perhaps it's evolutionary. Parent and child conflict is necessary for the continuation of the species. Kids have to leave home to start families of their own so a little friction makes that more likely. If we felt the same way about our grown up children that we did when they were babies we'd never let them leave. But often the friction turns to something ugly and crippling that leaves us stumbling and broken.
So, what are we left with? A whole bunch of disenchanted people. And, what can we do about it?
Do we bring it all out in the open? Shake our fists at each other and bellow out our grievances? Call out everyone we feel has wronged us? I can tell you, that doesn't work. A great way to crater any relationship is getting things off your chest with insults and cruel criticism aimed at the jugular. But, is sweeping it under the rug healthy? Is there a happy medium? An unhappy medium? Do we grin and bear it?
Must we stay in relationships that cause us only grief, or are abusive, just because they're family?
Again, I don't know. It's a choice between shitty and shitty. Neither choice is painless.
Perhaps my daughter Kayla's theory has legs. She says that when everyone is grown up, we're all just people then. We're not just mothers, children, etc., we're fully formed human beings. We have our own opinions, quirks, we make our own mistakes. And sometimes, our personalities just don't mesh. We simply don't always like one another.
That sounds so reasonable, grown up. Enlightened even.
So why do so many of us go to bed with aching, heavy hearts and regrets, pining for the relationships we've lost or never had to begin with?
Obamacare...on the Ground.
I've been a registered, and voting, Democrat since I turned 18. I'm now close to 50...52 is still close, right?
I believe in social programs to aid the disenfranchised and vulnerable.
I believe in providing opportunities to those who don't have any.
I don't believe quality healthcare should only be available to the wealthy.
I believe our healthcare system is broken.
I didn't realize just how much till hubby and I got our health insurance through the new exchange.
BTW...I hate it when Obamacare is referred to as "access to healthcare for all." It is not access to health care. It's access to health insurance. There's a big gap between buying insurance and getting quality health care.
When you sign up for health insurance through the exchange, all the insurance rules still apply. You pay a copay, and the insurance only pays a "certain" percentage of your costs after you've reached your deductible. Here's how it shakes out for me and hubby:
We have the Bronze Plan -
Monthly premium: $750
Deductible amount annually: $12,600
% of doctor visits covered before deductible is reached: 0
% of prescriptions covered before deductible is reached: 0
% of emergency room or hospitalization covered before deductible is reached: 0
BTW...this is NOT based on income. The only time income comes into play is if you are eligible for subsidies. It is based on age and number of people in the family. Period. We are both over 50 and are empty nesters.
So, for the hell of it, I pretended to be a family of four making less than $60k per year (actually, it's $0-$59k per year so I guess these guidelines apply if you make $59k or $5k). Here's what Obamacare tells me:
You could enroll in a Bronze plan for about $1,654 per year (which is 3.31% of your household income, after taking into account $3,952 in subsidies). For most people, the Bronze plan represents the minimum level of coverage required under health reform. Although you would pay less in premiums by enrolling in a Bronze plan, you will face higher out-of-pocket costs than if you enrolled in a Silver plan.
Remember...me and hubby have the Bronze plan which pays for nothing.
OUT OF POCKET COSTS Your out-of-pocket maximum for a Silver plan (not including the premium) can be no more than $10,400. A boatload for a family of four making $50k per year. They don't mention what the premium is for the Silver plan.
Whether you reach this maximum level will depend on the amount of health care services you use. Currently, about one in four people use no health care services in any given year. No shit. Because they can't afford it.
You are guaranteed access to a Silver plan with an actuarial value of 73% (you know you're in trouble when they start talking about "actuarial value"). This means that for all enrollees in a typical population, the plan will pay for 73% of expenses in total for covered benefits, with enrollees responsible for the rest. My one hip surgery (I've had four) cost over $100k. So the family of four who makes $50k per year would pay more than $25k of that cost.
So, guess what? That family of four will have health insurance but will avoid doctor offices like the plague they will probably get due to lack of health care. I know that because I'm doing it right now. I won't go to the doctor unless a limb is hanging off. And only if its the limb I use the most. I've also been a single mother with two kids who had health insurance but still couldn't afford to go to the doctor, back in the day. Not much has changed.
Of course, it's now illegal to NOT have coverage. In response, folks are choosing to pay the fine (a percentage of income) instead of getting insurance. There are "fine calculators" all over the internet.
There's really nothing groundbreaking about the Obamacare scheme. It works the way insurance has always worked, only it costs a hell of a lot more. The young and healthy subsidize the older, unhealthy (Obamacare is not paid for by the beleaguered 1%). Which is why they need a huge percentage of youngsters to sign up. But, they're not. Even the youngins that will tell you how great Obamacare is, are NOT signing up. I've asked. I get a blank stare, then "Why would I spend that kind of money? I can't afford it."
So, in my humble opinion...Obamacare is yet one more government program that keeps the working poor, poor...and unhealthy. And now, many that used to seek out health care as needed (like me) won't.
I'm not speaking for the masses. This is my experience and I'm not gonna say Obamacare helps no one. I'm sure there are some who consider it a Godsend. Particularly those with pre-existing conditions. But I haven't met any of those people.
I normally avoid political discourse on my blog. But, then I remembered I'm a writer. And no one becomes a writer to stay silent. I don't know what the answer to our health care problem is. But I know this isn't it. If the idea was for more to get health care, I think the opposite is happening.
Just writing this has given me a migraine. Which I would treat except the migraine medicine costs me $15 a pill.
IF YOU LIKE THE BLOGS YOU'LL LOVE THE NOVELS IN HER TWISTED CRIME SERIES